Travelling in India is one of the most fascinating and overwhelming experiences in Asia. Up front I wondered for days how this colorful and unique country would be like and what I could expect. After traveling the North for a month I set up a list for newbies and especially woman with 10 travel tips for India.
Do your research
India is a destination unlike any other Asian country. Read up front about the country, the culture, the food and experiences from other travellers. Make up your mind and be sure that you are ready for an adventure instead of a relaxed vacation.
India is almost as large as whole Europe. So don’t underestimate the distances and don’t try to see too many places in one trip. You’ll enjoy the country much more if you travel less and get familiar with a couple places and connect with the locals.
In India, much of the inhabitants are fairly conservative compared to the West. Make your trip as pleasant as can be; adapt your dress and respect the local customs. Make sure to pack enough long dresses, long skirts, thin long trousers, long sleeve shirts, shawls etc. Wearing a (fake) wedding ring can be helpful to be very clear to Indian men that you are married and not interested in them.
Live by the light
Do as the locals do and live by the light. Get up at sunrise and to bed after sunset. You’ll be surprised by all the activity you’ll see in the morning and the beautiful encounters you’ll have before breakfast.
Expect the unexpected
Don’t book everything up front. In peak season trains and hotels can be full in India and it is wise to check availability. But leave some room for the unexpected. Maybe you’ll love it somewhere so much and want to extend your stay or you’ll get invited to join a traditional Indian wedding of new friends. Not having everything set gives you the opportunity to let yourself be surprised by India’s warm culture.
Book your train tickets online; this saves a lot of time and chaos in comparison to booking a ticket at a station. Always make sure to arrive at your next destination during daytime. Travel in an upper berth to not feel looked at during sleeping and choose your class wisely. It’s always better to pay something extra and feel save and comfortable.
India has a very male centered culture. As a female traveller it feels (often) more comfortable to stay in family run guesthouses and hotels or with family and female Airbnb hosts. Always check reviews from hotels on Tripadvisor to avoid scams and from previous guests on Airbnb. When you leave your hotel always make sure you’ll have the address with you to find your way back.
Where to go?
Are you going for the first time to India? Arriving in Delhi can be a bit overwhelming, choose to travel quickly to some destinations, which will ease you into the Indian culture. Good examples of ‘easy India destinations’ are: Rishikesk, Manali, Goa, Hampi and Rajasthan in general.
You can be sure that your stomach needs some time to get used to the oily Indian food. So bring all the medication to help you get through a food poisoning. Also some car sickness pills can be very useful.
Bring your mobile phone and buy a local card. It’s a save idea to be reachable all the time.
You will find your way! Just always remember a smile is a language everyone understands and a patient confident mindset will bring you a long way! Namasté!